Patriots

Have the offseason changes negatively affected the Patriots locker room?

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Have the offseason changes negatively affected the Patriots locker room?

The Patriots improve their record to 4-2 with a win over the Jets, but there are still a lot of concerning factors for New England. Mike Giardi and Dan Koppen talk about something the team isn't used to - close games.

Giardi also dives into whether there is a major problem with the locker room dynamic, and whether all the moves they made in the offseason were blown way out of proportion by the media and fans of the talent added, but didn't factor in the personalities they lost.

Koppen and Giardi also look at how the offensive line play has fallen off, despite the same personnel as last year. Finally, discussing the late scratch of Stephon Gilmore due to a concussion. Anything to read into the timing?

Patriots ID, turn in beer-throwing fan

Patriots ID, turn in beer-throwing fan

The Patriots have identified the fan who threw a beer at Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill after his 75-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter Sunday night and Foxboro police reportedly will charge the 21-year-old man from Marshfield, Mass., with disorderly conduct.

Here’s the statement from the Patriots:

WBZ reported that the beer-tosser will be charged with disorderly conduct and throwing an object at a sporting event:

Here's a slow-motion look at the incident, via NFL Network’s Marc Istook:

Hill's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said they are talking to the NFL and the NFL Players Association about taking action against the fan, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported:

Hill’s touchdown and the ensuing extra-point tied the score at 40 in a game the Patriots would go on to win 43-40 on Stephen Gostkowski’s last-second field goal, handing the Chiefs their first loss.

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Nice of the officials to stay out the way of Patriots-Chiefs classic

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AP Photo

Nice of the officials to stay out the way of Patriots-Chiefs classic

GAME WITHIN THE GAME
There are a few items we highlighted in our "Game Within the Game" preview story that need some circling back this morning and the first one is officiating.

John Hussey’s crew was refreshingly out of the limelight in this one. Whether that’s thanks to the two teams playing really cleanly or the officials easing back a bit (the crew walked off 26 penalties in Week 1 and 20 in Week 5), the upshot was a game that had great flow.

But we told you how much better the Patriots were at playing within the rules than Kansas City and that was borne out. The Patriots didn’t have any accepted penalties last night. The Chiefs had five for 58 yards including a 37-yard defensive pass interference on Josh Gordon that set up a Sony Michel touchdown.

The Patriots are now at the top of the league in accepted penalties against (still 26) while the Chiefs are the second-most penalized teamhttp://www.nflpenalties.com/phase.php?year=2018 . The Chiefs have 50 penalties for 430 yards.

Even more impressive is that the Patriots just have 18 accepted penalties combined on offense and defense. The other eight are against their special teams. The Chiefs have 47 non-special teams penalties against them.

WE TOLD YOU HILL WAS FAST
Second, we hit on Tyreek Hill’s speed and the fact that he can run 22 mph with a football under his arm. He hit the gas a couple of times Sunday night and opened up space between himself and the very fast Devin McCourty.

Hill scored three times. McCourty was in coverage twice. One came on a 1-yard touchdown flip when McCourty had a minor collision with teammate Jonathan Jones allowing Hill to scoot free. The other was on a 14-yard throw where McCourty got caught in a trail position and couldn’t make up the gap Hill created.

“Hill’s a guy who – if you play him outside and he runs all the way to the other pylon – those are plays where you try to run it down and try to make a play late but it’s hard to catch back up to him,” McCourty explained.  “The longer the play goes on, you hope the ball will be in the air long enough to catch up but on that first one I went from inside the left hash to 2 yards inside the right pylon. It’s just tough trying to know which way he’s going initially but I just need to try and stay closer and make a play at the end.”

Hill’s speed led directly to 21 points. The arm strength of Patrick Mahomes was directly attributable to the seven Kansas City got on the 67-yard touchdown pass he threw to Kareem Hunt in the third quarter.

Mahomes got outside the pocket but had few options and bought time by drifting. With that, Jason McCourty slowed his pursuit and curled toward the middle of the field, while Hunt kept going straight down the sideline.

Recalling that play, Devin McCourty said, “The hard thing with (Mahomes) was, if you do get after him and get some pressure, is how well he throws the ball outside the pocket. That’s the hardest time to cover fast guys. You cover the initial route but once he gets outside the pocket and the guy just goes one way or goes the other way, you just have to try to catch him. On the Hunt touchdown, he did what you wanted him to do. (Mahomes) bubbled (rolled right on an arc away from the line of scrimmage) but the guy has a great arm that even if he bubbles, he can still get it deep.”

Bill Belichick was not enthused about that play.

“It's not a mystery,” he said on the Monday morning conference call. “Almost every quarterback we've played has been a scrambling quarterback, so it's not like we haven’t seen one before or it hasn’t come up before. We just had a couple of breakdowns last night. It was more than one play, but there were a couple of breakdowns that just ended up in bad plays which we've got to do a better job. We've got to coach it better and we've got to play it better.”

As for the long Hill touchdown in the fourth quarter, Belichick panned that too.

“I'd just say that was just bad defense, bad coaching, bad playing, bad everything.”

GOSTKOWSKI IN "A GROOVE"
Finally, a very busy game for Stephen Gostkowski who went 9-for-9 on his kicks. He was 5-for-5 on field goals including a very clutch 50-yarder with 3:15 to go that pushed the Patriots lead to seven. If he’d missed, would have put the Chiefs first-and-10 at their own 40 driving for the win and not the tie.

He was right down the middle on virtually every kick as well.

“Sometimes you take a guy like Steve for granted,” Bill Belichick said on the conference call. “Just goes out there and bangs them through.”

“I felt in a groove on field goals tonight,” said Gostkowski. “Games like this where you get a lot of opportunities you feel very involved in the game, to me it makes the job easier. Sometimes the hardest games are when you’re sitting around and you don’t know when you’re going to go out there. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen very often. We have a great offense and we score a lot of points. But when you hit the first one and it goes right where you aimed, it’s easy to get on a roll when stuff like that happens.”
The kicking game wasn’t without its curiosities though.

Late in the first quarter, Gostkowski tried what appeared to be a half-squib that was easily fielded by Kansas City’s Spencer Ware at the 35 and returned nearly to midfield. It didn’t have a prayer of being recovered by the Patriots so why did New England just hand over 20 yards of field position to an explosive offense?

“It was a bad kick,” said Gostkowski. “I’m not gonna get into it. It just wasn’t very well executed and put that one on me.”
As for the high-arcing kickoff that the Chiefs returned 97 yards in the fourth quarter, I asked Gostkowski if he can just kick it through the end zone whenever he wants.

“I wish,” he said.  

Gostkowski’s kickoffs going to the lighthouse end were as follows: 3 yards deep in the end zone, squib fielded at the Kansas City 35, moonshot fielded at the 3, touchback, touchback.

As outstanding as Gostkowski was on field goals, the plan hatched by Belichick and special teams coach Joe Judge for Gostkowski’s kickoffs is harder to discern. 

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